Luke Pearson’s mystery book covers for Penguin

Published:  June 10, 2014
Lucy Waddington

To be republished by Penguin, Kyril Bonfiglioli’s collection of playful mystery novels starring famed (fictional) art dealer, Charlie Mortdecai, will feature covers illustrated by illustrator Luke Pearson. Approached directly by the publishing powerhouse, Pearson was asked by Penguin’s Richard Bravery to commission work for the series of five books following a cover he had created for the Essentials edition of Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim.

“I was really excited by the prospect of designing a series in one go,” says Pearson to Creative Review. “My gut feeling was for them to be tightly consistent, the same type treatment, a distinct colour scheme, maybe a shared overall design etc. However, the brief required me to do the first cover in its entirety and for that to be approved before I moved onto the rest.”


As he continued to investigate the distinct story and unique personality of each novel, he added that “the challenge shifted from how to make them feel uniform, to how to make each cover totally different but still connected, Richard was really helpful with this, introducing the strip along the bottom, helping enforce a logic to the colour choices that carries all the way through, so that it feels like they share a palette when they actually don’t entirely.”


To accentuate a sense of cohesion, Pearson also chose to continually disguise Mortdecai’s face on the covers. Opposing the often-favoured avenue of publishing houses to swathe the cover in a human face, Pearson’s decision instead favoured the imagination of the reader, allowing them to envisage his face themselves, and reiterated the sense of the stories as primarily character-driven mysteries.

The Mortdecai series is published by Penguin.

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